Bearden graduates proud of legacy

Bearden High School graduates are leaving their mark on their school even after graduating at Thompson-Boling Arena Thursday, May 19.

“To say our graduating class has simply left a legacy at Bearden would be an understatement,” Callie Elonen, senior committee president, said during the commencement ceremony.

Each year, the senior class purchases a senior gift to the school. This year, the 2016 class raised more than $34,000 to renovate the auditorium.

“The more people we got involved, the bigger the project got,” Elonen said. “Although the campaign is still in the works, we applaud the Class of 2016 for initiating the biggest gift in the history of BHS.”

“Our time at Bearden High School is not over,” Andrew Chance, senior class president, said as he welcomed attendees to the ceremony. “The impact the school has had is just beginning.

“As we move out into the world, let us all remember the unforgettable memories and life lessons we have learned here. I cannot wait to see what that class accomplishes in the future.”

“We can all be a hero because you are braver than you think you are, stronger than you think you are and smarter than you think you are,” Sydney Gabrielson, salutatorian, quoted Christopher Robin in her commencement address. “We can all be heroes because we can all change ordinary moments and create extraordinary memories. I challenge you to all be heroes and positively impact someone or something.”

Gabrielson named some well-known alumni, such as the University of Tennessee basketball player Holly Warwick and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, and said, “We can be just as heroic as Bearden High alumni.”

“Tonight, we reflect on the past four years,” Elizabeth Noon, valedictorian, said. “We need to get fired up for the rest of our lives.”

“Do away with the self-criticism.” she advised.

“I challenge you to live purposefully and intentionally,” John Bartlett, BHS principal, said. “You are not defined by tweets, likes and social media, you are defined by who you are and who you impact.

“You have to work. There are no longer trophies for participation; you have to hone your craft. You have to invest in yourselves and seek knowledge.”

This year, scholarships totaling $28,500,000 have gone to BHS graduates, Bartlett said. The class celebrates its accomplishments, such as its merit award winners, he said. He recognized the senior leaders, Elonen, Chance, Madison Daniels, Gabrielson and Noon.